Crafting with a Caffeinated Raccoon in the House

I have found that crafting with a toddler around can be almost impossible. They’re like raccoons after four Americanos: super high energy and into EVERYTHING. Now don’t get me wrong, I look forward to doing lots of fun crafty things with my boy as he gets older and even collaborate on projects together like this amazing mom. But 2 year olds are very limited in the tools and materials they can safely use so I came up with this very very simple solution to doing arts and crafts when you have a toddler. Are you ready? Here it is:

Mom's Craft Board

A really big cutting board.

Amazing right? Really cutting edge. A real slice of heaven. It has opened up a whole new chop-ter in my life. (Ok. Sorry. I’ll cut it out).

The great thing about this is that I can move it around. I can set up my project and work at the kitchen counter and if Malcolm starts to go “full spider monkey”, I can just put it away in another room or on a higher shelf, no cleanup required. Then it’s ready for me to work at again when I get a chance.

Mom's Craft Board

Not long after I came up with this mind-blowing invention, I read a post by Abby Glassenberg where she suggests using a tray. Genius! a large tray would keep little things like beads and pins from rolling off. I think I’ll look for a large serving tray at Goodwill as soon as this %$#@* snow melts.

Valentine Pockets

Valentine Pockets. I call the one on the top left The Riker. You know what I'm talking about nerd friends!

Valentine Pockets. I call the one on the top left “The Riker”. High five nerd friends!

Here is a fun little project I came up with for Valentine’s Day this year. I love the idea of slipping a treat into your loved one’s pocket to let them know you care, so I came up with this little Valentine pocket. It’s just big enough to hold a small chocolate or a wee love note or a “diamond-ass ring” (my husband is a very classy man). I put Ghirardelli chocolate squares in mine. The dark chocolate salted caramel flavor is amazing.

This pattern is for the pink and red Valentine Pocket.

What you’ll need for this project:

  • The Pattern (pdf)
  • Red felt
  • Pink felt
  • Light-colored fabric pencil
  • Sewing needles
  • Gold thread
  • Fabric scissors
  • Optional: jewels, beads, ribbons, lace

1. Start by cutting out 2 large red hearts and 1 small pink heart. Cut a 2 1/2 inch slit into the back of one of the red hearts. This will be the back of your Valentine Pocket.

Trace the pattern onto the felt with a light-colored fabric pencil.

Trace the pattern onto the felt with a light-colored fabric pencil.

Cut out your pattern pieces.

Cut out your pattern pieces.

Cut a 2 1/2 inch slit into one of your red hearts.

Cut a 2 1/2 inch slit into one of your red hearts. This will be your back piece.

2. With your gold thread, stitch the small pink heart onto the center of the front piece and stitch a decorative stitch around the slit in the back piece. I used a blanket stitch for this project. There is a good tutorial for that here. But a whip stitch or a running stitch would work just as well.

Sew the pink heart onto the front piece.

Sew the pink heart onto the front piece.

Stitch around the slit in the back. Throw on some extra bling if you feel like it.

Stitch around the slit in the back. Throw on some extra bling if you’re feeling sassy.

3. Now all you have to do is sew your two pieces together and put a treat inside.

Sew the front and back together.

Sew the front and back together.

Put a wee treat or a love note inside.

Put a wee treat or a love note inside.

4. Next all you have to do is sneak your Valentine Pocket into your sweetie’s pocket or lunchbox or briefcase or mailbox or boots or…

Surprise!

Surprise!

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone!

Christmas Crafting

Acorn

Christmas crafting time is upon us and I’m trying to squeeze in some small projects when I can. Above is a peek at one of my little works in progress. I’ve also been thinking about the candle decorating I did last year:

Finished candle

Here are a few holiday projects that have really inspired me recently:

And how about you? What have you got in the works?

Crafting Entertainment

Crafting Entertainment

Last weekend I was working on my cardigan coat and catching up on my favorite podcast with my big cup of tea nearby and I started thinking about the things I do while I’m doing handwork. I like to have a really huge cup of tea. I like to listen to podcasts like The Ro-Co Review and The Moth. I love to listen to comedians like Maria Bamford and Patton Oswalt. And sometimes I’ll knit while my husband watches football (let’s go Tech!). It made me curious about what other people do when they’re crafting, so I asked a couple of friends to share their favorite crafting entertainment.

Nicole of KnitRunBakeRun:
“I tend to be one of those knitters who is always doing something else while knitting: talking on the phone with my sister, watching TV with the husband (while re-watching Twin Peaks, I finished the Schieffelin Point Shawl this week) or even while riding the bus. This isn’t my preference, but rather what tends to happen when I really want to finish something and am pressed for time. What I really love: to sit in my office on my favorite chair, with a cup of my current favorite tea (Bengal Spice) and some Antje Duvekot playing. With the west facing windows, there is a gorgeous flood of afternoon sunlight and a view of late autumn leaves. There is always a cat nearby and the smell of something baking downstairs. Soul restoring at its very best.”

Kim of Domestocrat:
“When I’m crafting the most important thing for me is to be in the zone. And I’ve found that different crafty activities dictate different types of entertainment for that reason. I love to listen to quiet, chill out music when I’m sewing or embroidering (Eisley, City & Colour, Best Coast, The Avett Brothers, Ingrid Michaelson). When I’m drawing or sketching I need complete silence so I can really concentrate. In my house we love crappy movies so sometimes I will queue up a bunch and put them on mute while I’m crafting. Last but not least, crafting always means hanging out with my best buddy, Reggie the cat. He’s into anything that means sitting for long periods of time and being quiet, so he loves crafty time.”

Dana of Punching Moments in the FACE:
“I find that when I knit I am totally immersed in my project. I can’t really entertain company or watch something on TV that requires any amount of my attention. It’s not a surprise to anyone, but I am a huge wrestling fan and I often work my crafting time around that. If I’m interested in the match, I take a break to watch. If I’m not interested, I just knit right through and listen to the commentary. I’ll sometimes put on ’30 Rock’ or ‘Arrested Development’ since I’ve seen them all already. I love background noise. Lately it’s been the sound of my roommate playing Skyrim. Crafting, especially knitting, keeps my hands busy and off the treats. It’s often my go to activity to avoid evening snacking. Since I tend to knit mostly in the winter, and as a way to relax, I’ll have a cup of tea. My favorite right now is Trader Joe’s Pumpkin Spice Roobios. There’s also a lot of cat cuddling that happens while I’m knitting. I’m the oldest person in the world.”

And finally, my mom, the craftiest craftster of all time:
“I like to listen to audio books while doing handwork and drinking a cup of hot water. Yup, just boil the water! I think I have listened to the entire Harry Potter series 6,7 times. The reader, Jim Dale has a voice I could listen to over and over. Oh yeah, that’s what I’ve been doing! The Secret Life of Bees is another one I listen to often. I can tune into the stories or have them as background if I’m doing something that needs more attention. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! is a great podcast on NPR if I am in the mood for a good laugh. Now all this is if I am not with other people, they are actually the best! Every Wednesday I have ‘Knit Night’ with a group of intelligent, fun, inspiring artists and there isn’t a single audio book that can take their place.”

I’d love to hear what you like to do while crafting!

Friendship Bracelets

“2013 Creative Pay-It-Forward: The first five people to comment on this status will receive from me, sometime in the next calendar year, a gift – a surprise (something handmade)! There will likely be no warning and it will happen whenever the mood strikes me.”

Way back in January this project was going around Facebook and I just couldn’t help myself, I had to participate. Two of my favorite things to do are making crafts and mailing packages. I thought for a long time about what I might make for the five friends who signed up and finally came up with friendship bracelets. It was July and and it seemed appropriate to do a really classic summer craft project.

Art supply shopping is another favorite activity of mine, especially when it’s something as inexpensive as embroidery floss. And pairing up colors for friendship bracelets is lots of fun. I was thinking about the ocean when I put these colors together:

Friendship Bracelets

Nothing says “camp” to me quite like pinning a friendship bracelet to your jeans. Of course I discovered that it is easier to keep out of the hands of curious toddlers when you pin it to a sturdy throw pillow.

I found a simple tutorial for a chevron stripe pattern here and some gorgeous inspiration here.

Friendship Bracelets

I originally thought I could whip up five bracelets in a couple of weeks, but on Mommy Time that translates to three months. Oops!

Once they were done, I had some fun bedazzling them because extra sparkle never hurt anyone.

Friendship Bracelets

I also added some closures. There is a good demo for that here.

And VOILA! I kind of love they way they look all together.

Friendship Bracelets

Then I got to the best part: putting them all in envelopes and mailing them to friends. Yay!

Friendship Bracelets

Valentine Garland

A friend of mine once told me that whether she was with someone or not, she planned to spend every Valentine’s Day treating herself to all the things she liked best: favorite movies, favorite foods, favorite flowers. Treat. Yo. Self. I love the idea that Valentine’s Day can be about showing yourself some love.

A few years ago I decided that for Valentines Day, I wanted to make a pretty heart garland for the house. I sat in the living room surrounded by pretty red and pink craft supplies, stitching and glueing – that is my idea of heaven. It was such a fun project, I thought I’d share it here.

Valentine Garland

Supplies:

hot glue
red felt
red ribbon
red thread
beads, jewels, etc.
beading needle
sewing needle
scissors
toy filling

Valentine Garland

1. Double up your felt and cut out hearts of varying sizes.

2. Cut a long piece of red ribbon and if you’d like to have beads between your hearts, string them on.

3. Lay out the back piece of each heart as you’d like them to be on the garland. I chose to have the largest heart in the middle and the smallest ones on the ends.

4. Place these pieces so that the ribbon lies on top of them and then glue them in place with your hot glue.

5. Take the top pieces and start decorating them with your beads and jewels and ribbons. This is my favorite part, I tried to make each one different.

6. Sew your heart tops to the heart backs that are attached to the ribbon. Stuffing them with a tiny bit of filling just before closing them up.

7. Tie loops in the ends of your garland and hang it up!

Valentine GarlandWhat are some of your favorite Valentine’s Day crafts?

 

 

Decorating Candles

I love lighting candles in winter, they give  off a cozy, calming glow that is so special this time of year. And I like to decorate them and give them as gifts. It’s such a simple handwork project, so I thought I’d share how I do it.

I start with a candle and some colored decorating wax. I find simple, unscented pillar candles at Ikea and I have a box of Stockmar decorating wax. I ordered mine here, but most Waldorf school supply shops will sell decorating beeswax.

Pillar candle and Stockmar decorating wax

I take bits of wax and warm them in my hands until they are easily mashed and shaped.

Decorating wax

Then I press the wax onto the candle.

Finished candle

So simple and satisfying to make.